Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report July 2016

Saltwater: Inshore & Nearshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “This past week has been one of the best weeks of fishing I have seen in a long time. Redfish, trout, black drum, sharks and tarpon are all biting. The trout have been all over the sounds. Some really big trout have been caught, and a lot of 18- to 23-inch fish have been mixed in. Some days we have caught 75 to 100 trout in a few hours. A live shrimp under a cork will catch more trout than anything else in the summer months. Some days when the small fish are in an eating frenzy a small mullet will work real well. Early in the morning a topwater MirrOlure has been catching a few big trout. July should find the trout all over the sounds and some fish on the beaches. The redfish bite has been really good this past week. We caught fish from 10 to 38 inches. I have seen some schools of 30 or more big fish in the mornings this week. Look for these redfish on the mud flats that have big, rough oyster beds on them. I have caught all my fish on shrimp and mullet lately. Sight fishing early morning and late afternoon should be good through July. A nice bonus fish has been the large number of black drum I have been seeing the last few weeks. I have had several days lately that we have caught 15 or so while fishing for trout and redfish. The drum will hit a dead shrimp on the bottom real good. Try fishing 10 feet deep around dock pilings or about any kind of structure with a dead shrimp for the drum. Nearshore, the big fish have arrived. Tarpon and a lot of big sharks have showed up. This morning we hooked a tarpon and caught four big blacktip sharks over 100 pounds each. The Ogeechee River is full of pogies (menhaden). Big schools of them are everywhere. The tarpon will be where the pogies are. Look for tarpon on the beaches where some type of tide rips form around sand bars, especially near the ends of the islands. The big sharks have been everywhere—behind shrimp boats, in the offshore channels, on the beaches and up the rivers. Tarpon and shark fishing should get better as the weather gets hotter. July weather and fishing should be hot. Go early and get home before the sun gets too hot.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Inshore fishing can be steady, that is if you are ready! For those inshore fishermen who just want to catch fish, I suggest purchasing or catching some live shrimp. The bottom line is that all fish like to eat shrimp—it’s easy to catch, it’s easy eat, and fish are just like us, they just plain love the taste of shrimp! When it comes to fishing with live shrimp, there are several good presentations: There is the traditional adjustable float, which comes in all sizes from super large to mini sizes. There is the ever popular popping cork, which when popped makes a sound just like a fleeing live shrimp. The only down side to using this float is your length of leader used restricts you to depth of water fished. The leader shouldn’t be longer than 4 feet and can’t be shorter than 12 inches. I suggest using this float when fishing in depths from 2 to 6 feet of water. Then there is “fishing naked.” Tie on a short leader to your main line, and then tie on a small Kahle hook. Then I suggest placing the hook under the shrimp’s horn located on top of the head and letting the shrimp make way its own way. It’s a known fact that shrimp go where they feel safe, and it’s also a known fact that larger fish have already figured out the shrimp’s game of hide and seek. Shark fishing has reached an all time high! I should say shark catching has reached an all time high. Lots of sharks are being landed while fishing in the sounds, off the beach fronts, around surfacing schooling baits and while fishing all points east. Since it is my opinion that it is shark mating season, it seems they are a little more lively, offering a longer and stronger fight. So it really doesn’t matter whether or not you are light-tackle fishing with smaller baits or heavy-tackle fishing with larger baits, your chances of catching is very good. Believe it or not but best baits are just about anything you care to use from squid to shrimp to cut fish to whole live or dead fish. One of my most favorite baits is what I call a fish steak. It is any size whole fish that is cut up like a loaf of bread. Since sharks are free to roam any depth of the water column, fishing from the bottom to the surface can be great to present your preferred bait.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy reports, “Our beach fronts and artificial reefs are holding some pretty interesting topwater catching opportunities. I call the month of July the ‘If you can see the fish, you can catch them month!’ Topwater fish such as Spanish and king mackerel, barracuda, little tunny, jack crevalle and cobia have arrived. All will hit anything from a small trolled lure to a spoon being pulled slowly behind your boat. Another way to get one of these fish’s biting attentions is to cast right into the school of fish. The best thing I can suggest is that you match the hatch. Match the size of bait you use to the bait the fish you are targeting are feeding on. For instance, let’s start with Spanish mackerel, little tunny and jack crevalle. Their favorite meal is glass minnows and juvenile squid. Small silver spoons sizes 0 and 00 made by Clark are the best to use. There are lots of different kinds of spoons on the tackle shelves, but the Clark spoon with the red ball is proven by fish many times over. When targeting the larger fish such as king mackerel and barracuda, then I suggest using a larger spoon. The best spoon for this job is a 3 1/2-inch Drone. When targeting cobia, which is the fish that looks like a shark or a large catfish in the water, I suggest using a 6- to 8-inch diving plug or some sort of a jig with hair tipped with some sort of a plastic eel or worm. If you happen to have some live bait in your livewell, anything from shrimp to small fish works like a charm on the old cobia. It’s this fish’s delight to look it over before sucking it down. The secret to unlocking, or better yet lock this bite, is to give them time to eat. Cobia season closes on June 20, 2016 and reopens Jan. 1, 2017. This means you can catch them, but you must release these fish as soon as possible. Please go to http://safmc.net/fish-id-and-regs/cobia for current regulations. Those fishermen that make their way to the live bottom area known as the Savannah Snapper Banks, which is located about 30 miles off Georgia’s coast, could find themselves catching anything from billfish to a wahoo. And there is a good reason, too. When the waters west of the stream reach the same temperatures, blue water fish go into the traveling mode. They make their way to the west, which means it is not unusual to catch them at the Savannah Snapper Banks. Heck not only there, but this could also happen at any of the artificial reefs. Just know that catching options at the banks are great this time of the year because you could catch anything from grouper to red snapper to cobia to amberjack to all kinds of bottom fish. Before heading out, I always check http://safmc.net. There are a few closures such as genuine red snapper, which is closed to harvest and possession. To make a copy of the regulations page for federal waters please go to http://safmc.net/sites/default/files/Regulations/pdf/2016/RecRegsSummary052516.pdf. I suggest if you are fishing offshore, whether it at the artificial reefs all the way out to the blue waters of the stream, that you should have a copy of these rules and regulations on your boat.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy reports, “Blue water fishermen used to say, ‘When the month of July rolls around, the blue water bite slows.’ However, things have changed. We Georgia fishermen have a blue water bite year-round. I suggest high-speed trolling starting at about 50 feet of water and pulling a lure or lures until you pull the throttles back. Best high-speed lures are http://ballyhood.com/high_speed_lures.htm. Also, I suggest giving bottom fishing a try. The fish that feed deep down are bigger and better than you think during this time. As far as best bottom live bait, I suggest menhaden, sand perch, ruby red lips, vermilion snapper, pinfish or blue runners. Actually, any hardy live bait will work. You can catch your own with a sabiki rig, which they just can’t seem to pass up. For menhaden, I suggest breaking out the old cast net. As far as another great bottom bait, I suggest cutting a belly strip from one of those just caught topwater fish in your cooler.”

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